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Cherry Red

Alexander Cole

“There are to me infinities 

played out in the way you say my name,” 

Harold said to me in traffic. 

He had a hand out the window 

and beat rhythmically 

to music playing only for him. 

There were times he held my hand 

back when we were lovers, 

before he was married, 

before I was a trophy 

he put on a shelf 

and dusted off when he needed to feel the weight of his own gravity. 


He is a poet who will never publish. 

His words light lanterns 

and curdle milk. 

I was an addict for the sweet nothings 

he whispered in my ear 

while our house crumbled off its foundation and I would build us a new one with hands he kissed with 

rose lips. 

As we neared the airport, I felt his heartbeat thrumming in the air. 

Both of his hands gripped the wheel with white knuckles. 

The cars around us were hyenas 

that nipped at our heels as we fled 

from something he would later claim to be a mistake. 


I folded down the mirror, grabbed my face wipes from the small pocket in my purse and scrubbed off 

everything but my lipstick. 


He loved them cherry red; 

I only wore it the days I left him. 


He pulled up to a flashing neon departures sign, threw it in neutral and pulled the e-brake. 


“Need help with your bags?” He asked. 

I shook my head. 

He popped the trunk and we walked to the back. 

I grabbed my only bag. 


“You know I love you.” He said and kissed my palm. 

I kissed his white collar 

and left two red lips behind. 

I kissed his cheek and played with the buttons on his shirt. 

I bit his earlobe and whispered, “I told your wife.” 

Fall 2023

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